Before Ebola, when a school-going girl gets pregnant in Sierra Leone she is, in most cases, simply taken of school by her parents and when she delivers her baby she normally returns to school while family members take care of the baby. Having pregnant girls in schools is generally frowned upon by school authorities and parents in Sierra Leone and many other African countries.
But Ebola caused an unprecedentedly high number of such pregnancies in Sierra Leone. Bah says they number is 10,000 or possibly 16,000 but this number has been disputed by Abdulai Bayraytay, the National Public Outreach Coordinator of the Ministry of Information and Communications who says it’s a little over 3,000. Bayraytay also pointed out, among other things, that the alternative school for the pregnant girls is just a temporary measure.
Brima Turay is the Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Education in Freetown. He refuted some of Bah’s claims, namely: No school girl is physically inspected for pregnancy in schools in Sierra Leone (at least it’s not official policy) and that the failure rate among school girls is simply too high due to all sorts of factors and that they (pregnant schoolgirls) need special attention.
One thing Bayraytay brought up in his response is the fact that these girls need not only an education but also special psycho-social help or therapy which seems to be provided in the alternative schools.
Now here is Mohamed Chernor Bah’s article followed by the detailed responses of Brima Turay